“Rhys, what colour?” I ask.
“Red” he replies, and I help him hand-over-hand to lift the red bowling ball from the rack. We lift it together onto the guide, and after a joint chant of “Ready, steady, go” Rhys pushes the ball forward. It makes a perfect direct line forward to the central pin securing a strike.
Rhys’ calves demonstrate their power as he springs up and down in excitement. The movement of the ball as it speeds down the lane provides the best entertainment for a little boy. Rhys takes his second go, which is just as exciting as the first, leaving a few pins standing this time around.
“Rhys, its Jessie’s turn” I state and hold his hand we stand on the side as he watches his sister choose her coloured sphere. I look around at the lights that overpower the room, alongside the noise as the balls hit the lane and pins. It is a nightmare experience for a boy who struggles with sensory processing, but that is where this parenting game is complex.
The momentum of balls and thrill of the smash, trump any of the loud noise and bright lights. Rhys is in his element, this activity is everything he has dreamed of. We continue to take our turns, Rhys choosing different colours, vocalising the one he wants as he eagerly lifts it into his grasp. After his two throws, he waits at the side watching his siblings take their turns.
We took a chance a few months ago, and tried bowling. On the surface we took a risk on something that made no sense on paper. The noise, the lights, the multi-sensory input. But Rhys loved it, and it has turned into a family adventure that has guaranteed success. The thing is that we would never have known if we had not given it a go. The opportunities it has presented for development are amazing – from colour association, to turn taking, mathematics and sensory processing.
Always try what you believe to be the impossible. Try it with the expectation that you may not even get through the main doors, and you may be surprised. Our kids amaze us, and throw us curve balls all the time. The rules are constantly being rewritten and we will only work it all out by pushing the boundaries.
Rhys’ hell turned out to be his ecstasy. A place we can go as a family and have fun, just like everyone else.
Head to my Facebook page to tell me what activities you do as a family. What works for you? Is it something you would never have tried naturally?